Title: No, mr Wright, I expect you to play
Posted: November 27, 2007 (05:31 AM)
Phoenix Wright came as a surprise to me, really. When I first heard of it I had no DS, and wasn't sure if this was my kind of game anyway. I endured the fads, sometimes cracking a brave half smile at somebody typing OBJECTION in a forum post, and gave it no real thought otherwise. When I did get my DS, my focus was on Castlevania, then some other games here and there that siara79 recommended. At some point she mentioned she'd picked up Phoenix Wright for me to try when I came over to the US in August. I didn't think much of it - she'd also picked up Etrian Odyssey and Odin Sphere (PS2, that one) for me at my request and I figured that's what I'd be spending most of my time with.
I'm not quite sure how Phoenix Wright managed to pull me in but it did - I played it almost nonstop during my week there, sometimes well into the night when everybody was asleep, and I was sprawled out on the couch, constantly having to plug my DS into the charger again because I'd run the battery dry. Dani and another friend of hers were both around case 4/5 when I started. In the end I overtook the friend and very nearly Dani when, only days after getting my hands on it, I finished the game. The next day I went out and bought the sequel to take home. It suffered the same fate as soon as I got it.
Then the long wait (heh, long, a couple months max) for the third game, which I imported from the US as soon as it was made available there. (Not just a time thing - when this thing gets to Europe, and there's no date on that yet, it'll go into stores for the normal 45 euros here, I'm pretty sure - a major difference from the 30 bucks I paid for the US version, even if you don't count the extremely favorable euro/dollar conversion rate lately). Got it, played it to death, finished it within a week.
Reviewing them all was a funny experience, because it got me thinking on the old difference between how much *I* liked a game, and how I look at it as a reviewer. I loved these games for certain, haven't felt for a moment I was ripped off by buying the same game three times - each had plenty of content to justify the money and I loved them all all the way through, something that hasn't happened for far too long. On the other hand, man...they recycle the characters, the locations, the gameplay elements, so blatantly that even "well, it's more like episodic gameplay than sequels" is questionable. Characters return so often that every game feels like more fanservice than the one before. Then there's the fact that it's all GBA games ported to DS and while the first game got a brand new case added (a good long one with extra gameplay features too), the other two did not. Cash cow? It's reasonable to see it that way.
And yet...and yet. I loved them all this much. I'm ready to preorder Apollo Justice as soon as it hits the States (February, I understand). While I do hope that it being a DS game from the beginning introduces new gameplay elements, what I really want is just more cases in that wacky world, and more opportunities to gleefully shout "Objection!" into my microphone every time I find a contradiction (yes, I actually do that). Evidently this trilogy did SOMETHING right - and not just in turning me, because I find people left and right playing it, I've gotten other people interested in it, Siara certainly has, and, well, the fact that after that first game they hurriedly rereleased and translates PW2 and 3 too says something about how the rest of the market has reacted to these.
I'm not sure I agree with the common review sentiment that Phoenix Wright has "brought back point and click adventures", though. That's not what it is. The investigation sequences may make it seem like it but those have basically no substance, just A to B and no puzzle solving to speak of. They were so boring in the first game that the addition of Psychelocks was absolutely essential to make them worth doing in gameplay terms. But the gameplay isn't even what matters here - it's the story.
If I had to make a bold claim about Phoenix Wright, I wouldn't go for "it revived adventure games" at all. How about a much bolder one: it proves that it is possible for a game to thrive on story instead of gameplay! Because if you ask the Sash, that's precisely what's happened here.
"Gameplay is the most important part of the game!" It's assumed on general principle and needlessly laid out in beginners' reviews, but I'd say that we just found the exception that proves the rule. Paying close attention and spotting the contradictions makes for interesting gameplay, but the real reason why we do it and want to continue doing it is not that we consider it an intellectual challenge. We want to know what happens next, dammit!
That's what drove me to buy all these games and what will drive me toward the next episode, too - and beyond if they keep this level of quality up. And if Apollo Justice proves to be precisely the same kind of gameplay, with nothing of note added, more location and character rehashes, I'll complain about these things - but you'd better believe I'll be playing it.
Posted: November 27, 2007 (06:11 AM)
Great write-up there! I love Phoenix Wright series too! ^_^
The games were done very well, like the pace, the music, the sound effect, the characters, the settings... everything! although, like you said, many of those were rehearsed back and forth in these three games. However, I don't mind that at all; it added more depth to the overall story, in my opinion. Though of course, a little new gameplay additions are always welcomed, but not too much.
In fact, many fans are complaining about the new Ace Attorney game (Apollo Justice) because there are just too many changes! But I guess, it's a necessary direction for the series to take, in order to avoid monotonicity and repetitiveness of the same old gameplay being rehearsed and rehearsed again (and ruining the great ending set by Case 3-5 <3).
I think some old aspects (Cross Examination, Investigation) and few old characters cameos are still needed in the new game in order to make the game still feel like our beloved Ace Attorney trilogy! Otherwise, the game will feel like it is from another series altogether...
Can't wait for Apollo Justice! :)
Posted: November 27, 2007 (07:04 AM)
I don't think we need to worry! I can already tell you that Phoenix, though not the main character, is present, and I think we can count on other cameos. (I deliberately haven't tried to learn too much about the game, which is already out in Japan - I'd like some surprises to remain.) I suspect, however, that they'll sooner have erred on the side of too much similarity than too much change, so it'll probably feel "just right" for us longtime fans. February! Shouldn't be too long a wait.
Posted: November 27, 2007 (11:48 AM)
i love phoenix wright. funny characters.